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EDITORIAL – Once upon a time there was a plan for a new City Hall

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

LET ME TELL YOU a story. Fifteen years ago, a committee of City council was formed to identify possible sites for a new City Hall. It was well known that the existing City Hall was becoming inadequate.

The idea was to purchase a property — several possibilities were available at the time — and lease it out commercially, meanwhile establishing a capital reserve budget that would grow for 15 years, making money from interest instead of paying interest on borrowing.

Construction could then begin without having to ask taxpayers for millions of dollars in a referendum.

Aside from the obvious savings, why that approach? Because taxpayers tend to regard new government buildings as being something politicians do for themselves.

Which is incorrect — a City Hall is the place where the City’s business is done, where democracy is carried out, and it should be a place that is efficient, effective and something we can take pride in.

Getting the land and taking it slow would have removed sticker shock as well as the borrowing costs.

So what happened? 2005, a new mayor and a new council — and the committee and the plan were quietly dropped.

Which brings us to today. A consultant’s study says, and I quote, “the City Hall building is approaching the end of its functional life.”

The report says it’s in “poor condition” and should be replaced.

So, where will the land and the money come from to build a new City Hall? Who knows?

If that plan of 15 years ago had been carried through, we’d be getting ready today to put shovels in the ground and looking forward to a smooth, painless transition out of a building whose time is up.

Instead of wondering what to do next.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

 

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About Mel Rothenburger (6800 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Once upon a time there was a plan for a new City Hall

  1. Dawne Taylor // January 17, 2019 at 10:44 AM // Reply

    Seems it’s hard for politicians at any level to have balcony vision and long term thinking.

  2. That is a bit of information that is good to know, Mel. It’s also a bit frustrating learning this kind of thing took place.
    Some similar discussions might have been held about the relocation of the main City Public Works Yard from Mission Flats Road to Concordia Way. The buildings on Mission Flats Road had served the City for a long time but more space was needed. Some of the buildings might have had issues with doing upgrades as well.

    I found a document which is the minutes of the meeting where Mayor and Council gave the green light for the new buildings at the public works yard on Concordia Way. The sticker price on the buildings was over $2 million!

    https://kamloops.civicweb.net/document/8576

    Do you remember if similar plans had been made about procuring land and a supplier for the new buildings?

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